Birds as reservoirs forBorrelia burgdorferis.l. in Western Europe: circulation ofB. turdiand other genospecies in bird–tick cycles in Portugal


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Abstract

SummaryBirds are important in the ecology ofBorrelia burgdorferisensu lato (s.l.) because they are important hosts for vector tick immature stages and are known reservoirs for someBorreliagenospecies. The aim of our study was to assess the role of common passerine bird species as reservoirs forB. burgdorferis.l. in Western Europe. We surveyed birds in enzootic areas in Portugal, where no information is available for birds as reservoirs for this aetiologic agent and whereB. lusitaniae, for which few reservoirs have been identified, is the dominant genospecies. Twenty-three birds (2.9%), includingTurdus merula,T. philomelos,Parus majorandFringilla coelebsharboured infected ticks, but onlyTurdussp. harboured infected tick larvae. In one study area, althoughB. lusitaniaewas dominant in questingIxodes ricinus, no ticks feeding on birds were infected with this genospecies, andB. valaisianawas the dominant genospecies inI. ricinuslarvae feeding on birds. In the other area ticks collected from birds were mainlyI. frontaliswhich were infected withB. turdi. Two skin biopsies (4.2%) from twoT. merulawere positive, one forB. valaisianaand the other forB. turdi. This is the first report forB. turdiin Western Europe.

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